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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a monumental shift in the way we conduct business, swapping the office for spare bedrooms, dining room tables and even the sofa. Since March 2019 the boundary between work and play has been eliminated and employees around the world are spending more time in front of their computers than ever before.

The mental and physical impact of business operations transitioning purely online over the last 12 months has affected us all with video conferencing burnout, most commonly experienced via Zoom, playing a major part in the day to day exhaustion millions of people around the world are feeling.

To understand the impact of Zoom burnout amongst the wider community, we spoke with Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist and NLP Master Practitioner Namita Bhatia on the realities of the world we now live in and how we can proactively work to protect our energy.

‘Zoom meetings make our brains work harder, with more focused attention on the screen making our senses heightened to be able to engage more effectively. In face to face meetings, we may unconsciously rely on all our senses and in particular on our body language, this is not the case in a Zoom meeting as you have to work harder to read other people’s facial expressions and interpret their tone through a computer screen’.

This makes you wonder; for an industry that is so heavily reliant on the ability to use expertly crafted soft skills to interpret hidden meanings during conversations, to step up and take the lead by guiding meetings, to perfectly balance the different needs of Execs and colleagues who are introverts, ambiverts and extroverts, how are you not supposed to feel burnt out? With 72% of Assistant Room readers admitting to experiencing Zoom fatigue/burnout consistently throughout 2020/2021, Namita says that spotting the signs of Zoom fatigue/burnout are easy and they are similar to the symptoms of exhaustion:

  • Forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating and brain fog

  • Difficulty being present with friends and family

  • Frustration and irritability with co-workers

  • Physical symptoms like muscle tension and pain

  • Finding it hard to switch off at night

According to Namita, everyone she has spoken to during the (UK) lockdown has admitted to working in ways they haven’t before – ‘One of the ladies I recently started working with said that she was spending 12 hours on her desk due to working from home.’. However she says it is important to know that it’s never too late to make changes that are beneficial for your mental and physical health.

Ways to Manage Zoom Burnout

Shared regularly by Namita amongst her clients, outlined below are some ways in which you can help you manage Zoom fatigue and burnou:

  • Before you start a meeting take a few moments to relax and ground your attention. You can do this by simply focusing your attention on your breath, feeling your body in the chair and just being in the present moment.

  • It may help to choose “Speaker View”. In Zoom choosing the Speaker View can be beneficial so we are only focusing on the one person who is speaking and the others are more in our peripheral vision. Tracking an array of multiple faces on the screen can be a quite a challenge.

  • If it not mandatory, turn your video off. Every work environment is a bit different, but if you have the ability to turn off your camera sometimes, do it!

  • Resist the urge to multitask. If you have found wanting to multi task for example reading emails and replying to them while also sitting in a meeting you are not doing yourself any favours. This is because you then have to hyper-focus on what is happening in the meeting. You should periodically ease your focus and maybe look out the window or just simply take your gaze off the screen to give your eyes a break.

  • Take deliberate breaks between sessions. Practice a brief relaxation exercise in between meetings, get up and go for a walk or just merely stand up at your desk and talk to others in the household.

Remember, burnout is no longer just about the amount of work we are doing but also the type of work we are doing, a combination of both is a lethal result of the pandemic that affects us all. For more information and support on how to manage Zoom fatigue/burnout, you can contact Namita here.


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